Creating a brand is no easy task. Creating a brand that is a reflection of you isn't any easier. Creating a brand that reflects you AND stands the test of time…is the hardest challenge of all.
I work with many photographers and other vendors to create tailored brands for them and something I often hear is “I don't know what my style is. How do I make a brand from that?” Branding is all about creating an image in a consumer's mind. You want potential clients to associate you with a certain image in their head and remember you.
For example, when I think of Nike a few words come to mind: sports, bold, and powerful. I'm sure many of you reading this would agree with those words. How did Nike get us to think of those words? Easy. They created a brand reflective of those words. Those words are reflective in their tv ads, website, products, and the language used in all of those mediums. They use bright colors, powerful people, and strong words to convey their message.
Doing this for yourself is no different.
Here are some general steps into starting your branding process:
[dropcap]1[/dropcap]ESTABLISH YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Most everyone wants a “high end” client with money. I get that. BUT…there is a wide range of those clients. Not everyone with money walks around in Jimmy Choo's and a Prada bag. Some of them are married with kids, live in the suburbs, and shop at Target. Some of them have a whimsical taste while others prefer chic and sophisticated styles. You have to decide who that ideal client is and then figure out how to attract them with your brand.
[dropcap]2[/dropcap]CREATE A PINTEREST BOARD
I have all my clients do two things for me at the start of our branding journey: 1) establish three descriptive words for their brand and 2) create a pin board. Often I get clients who already know their three words before pinning anything. They are very focused and often their boards are very focused as well. Then there are clients who aren't sure of their words and creating a Pinterest board helps to define those words because they or I will see a pattern emerge in the pins. I have clients pin anything and everything from textures to color palettes to patterns. When working with wedding vendors I tell them to use search terms like “peach wedding” if they know they want peach in their brand or “shabby chic wedding” if they know what kind of feel they want for their brand, but aren't sure of colors.
Here is an example of a pin board for a client of mine…
This client was very focused who knew she wanted to use black, white, and gold and have a very high end luxury focused brand.
[dropcap]3[/dropcap]CREATE AN INSPIRATION BOARD
Once my clients have pinned their little hearts away I will often add to the board once I see a pattern develop. If they are at a loss for their words I will often jump in at this stage with suggestions. The words serve as a solid platform for any decision made. They are the blueprint/Bible of a brand. After the pin board I will create an inspiration board which is a collage of all the pins I think are reflective of their words. See below for the above pin board's inspiration board.
I find that the three words combined with this inspiration board create an overall representation of a brand. The words and pin board are super easy things you can do on your own! From this board above you get a sense of where the brand is going. This inspiration board resulted in the brand board below:
Before you even dive into a logo or anything remotely visual you need to establish those brand words and create some kind of pin board. It could even be an old fashioned REAL cork board with clippings from magazines! Once you pin things, over time, you should see a pattern develop. I always tell clients to not pin something because it's pretty, but pin something because it's reflective of you and meaningful. It's so easy to get stuck in the trap of “that's pretty, I'll pin it.” Don't! In this industry YOU are a reflection of you business because you are selling your service so you want to make sure your brand is true to who you are. Establishing an ideal client and being really specific about that person really helps get rid of the “pretty trap.”
Be true to yourself with your building your brand and in honor of my cheesy nature…”if you build it…they (those clients) will come.” 🙂
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